The last time we saw more than 10 teams in Formula 1 was almost a decade ago – but that might be set to change, with Andretti Global and Cadillac having just unveiled their plans to join the F1 grid in 2026.
After two years of big talk and speculation, it seems as if F1 might have finally found the elusive 11th team it’s been coveting for years, with top motorsports outfit Andretti teaming up with General Motors’ luxury marque Cadillac on what they’re calling “a true American F1 bid.”
This comes after FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem Tweeted earlier this week that he had asked his team “to look at launching an expression of interest process for prospective new teams” looking to join the Formula 1 World Championship – the first proper invitation the FIA has extended to new teams. F1 has not had a new team since fellow American team Haas joined the grid in 2016.
Andretti owner Michael Andretti – son of 1978 F1 World Champion Mario Andretti and a former F1 driver in his own right – has been vocal about his desire to join the grid over the last two years, but both the FIA and existing teams have been somewhat dismissive of his bid.
But now that he has one of the world’s biggest auto makers on his side, it seems as if the door might finally be open to Andretti joining the grid. It’s understood that one of the main reasons F1 and the FIA were previously hesitant about Andretti was that they weren’t coming to the table in conjunction with a manufacturer. This Cadillac partnership changes everything.
In many ways, there’s no better candidate for a new F1 team. Andretti Autosport is one of the most successful motorsports outfits in the US and competes in a wide array of motorsports series across the world including IndyCar, Formula E, Extreme E and the Australian Supercars Championship. They’re incredibly competent and know how to run winning race teams.
At the same time, General Motors and the Cadillac brand more specifically are keen to reestablish their reputation as a serious performance car maker – and have the sorts of deep pockets and resources that are necessary to succeed in the top tier of international motorsports.
The prospect of another American team joining F1 is also a tantalising prospect for both fans as well as F1’s owner Liberty Media, who are keen to capitalise on F1’s growing popularity in the United States. Another American team will help with that.
Cadillac recently made a splash with the unveiling of their V-LMDh prototype race car, with which they will contest the IMSA SportsCar Championship and the FIA World Endurance Championship, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans. That car marks the brand’s comeback to the world racing stage after a 20-year hiatus.
How will it work?
First of all, Andretti Cadillac will have to present a formal expression and full application (both of which have fees of several thousand dollars attached to them) to the FIA, who will do their own due diligence process analysing any potential bid.
Additionally, any new team joining the F1 field is required to pay a US$200 million fee as a dilution fund that is split between the current grid to make up for splitting the teams’ payouts with another entrant, Motorsport.com explains.
The team will operate primarily out of the new Andretti Global headquarters that’s currently under construction in Indiana, but will also open a European satellite base in the UK (a similar model to what Haas has).
Initially, Andretti will receive a power unit supply from another engine manufacturer (almost certainly Renault) but seeing as they’ve got General Motors on board, it’s likely that they’ll try and develop their own power unit, too.
Andretti and Cadillac have said they’re “seeking to compete as soon as practical with at least one American driver”, which again, will almost certainly be Colton Herta, who races for Andretti Autosport in IndyCar. American drivers have traditionally been something of a rarity in F1: Logan Sargeant, who is joining the F1 grid with Williams in 2023, is the first American driver to compete in the sport since 2015.
The possibility of another team joining the grid and therefore another two race seats opening up is also no doubt an exciting prospect for drivers who’ve found themselves without an F1 seat for 2023… Daniel Ricciardo is a notorious Americanophile and is very popular in the States – could he maybe rejoin the grid with Andretti in 2026?
We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, though. Nothing’s been finalised yet, and other recent developments in the F1 team landscape – such as Porsche’s deal with Red Bull or McLaren’s deal with Audi – have failed to launch. But this bid looks pretty serious, and could see F1 change significantly in 2026.